A culinary journey through Switzerland
What comes first to your mind when you think of Swiss food? Cheese and chocolate? That’s not wrong at all. Neither the one nor the other can be missed in a Swiss household.
But culinary-wise Switzerland has much more to offer. As small as the country is as different are the culinary specialties in the various regions and cantons! And this not only applies when we talk about the Röstigraben (“rösti ditch”, the difference between French- and German-speaking Switzerland).
26 cantons, 4 languages – in a country that is 8.5 times smaller than Germany. Of course when it comes to food, we Swiss are heavily influenced by our neighbouring countries. And who can seriously resist pizza, pasta or a fine potato salad? But there are also countless typical dishes in Swiss cuisine, which you should test during your trip to Switzerland!
Of course there is above all a real good cheese fondue or raclette. Both comes originally from French-speaking Switzerland, to be concrete from canton Wallis. Real Swiss prefer to enjoy their fondue
in winter, best after a long day on the slopes, but many restaurants offer fondue and raclette the whole year through. In Zurich in winter you even have the chance to make a round with the oldtimer fondue tram through the pretty city at the Limmat. An absolute insider tip! (https://www.zuerich.com/de/besuchen/restaurants/fondue-tram)
If you travel to French-speaking Switzerland Romandie, you will discover more typical dishes. So in the region around Lake Geneva, Lake Neuchátel and Lake Biel many restaurants offer fish. Especially whitefish, trout, and perch are very popular and you should enjoy them with a glass of wine from the beautiful domestic vineyards, for example Lavaux at Lake Geneva (by the way UNESCO world heritage).
Very popular in Western Switzerland are Saucisson. Those raw sausages made from pork will be served in a stew with beans.
From French-speaking Switzerland we travel to the German-speaking part of Switzerland and pass the Röstigraben on our way. Röstigraben is the slightly ironical name for the border between both. The name is based on the fact that the potato dish Rösti will be rarely served in the Romandie. But if you travel to Bern, Luzern, Basel or Zurich in most restaurants with Swiss cuisine you will not have to miss out on a fine and crispy Rösti as your side dish. If we talk about Zurich: Probably the most famous dish from Zurich is clearly Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (Zurich-style veal stew) with veal, mushrooms and cream sauce. Also one of my favorite dishes, preferably with Rösti on the side! A culinary MUST if you visit Switzerland.
If you want to dine really chic in Zurich, visit Swiss TV chef Meta Hildebrand (amongst others Kitchen Impossible with Tim Mälzer). Her restaurant is located in the lively Kreis 4. (http://www.restaurant-lechef.ch/)
Alternatively dine high above the roofs of Zurich! Beautiful The Restaurant in the famous The Dolder Grand Hotel regularly receives stars and starlets like Paris Hilton and offers haute cuisine on the highest level. Obviously this restaurant has a certain price level. (https://www.thedoldergrand.com/dining.html)
We continue our culinary trip. Next stop: Central Switzerland! It’s going to be really rustic. Don’t miss a nice plate of Älplermagronen, a typical dish from the Swiss Alps, consisting of pasta, cheese, onions, potatoes and sour cream. Soul Food at its best! In alpine huts and restaurants with down-home menu you should find this dish.
If you stop in the pretty little town Zug you should definitely indulge in a piece of Zugerkirschtorte (cherry cake from Zug) for coffee. This specialty from canton Zug is available in most bakeries and cafés. Contrary to common believe the cake is not made with cherries but with the liquor Kirsch. A dream! Maybe the best Zugerkirschtorte you can find at Confiserie Speck. They won already two awards for their cake.
From Central Switzerland we continue into the beautiful south of Switzerland. We pass the Gotthard and arrive in the sunny canton: Tessin! My personal favorite. Clocks are ticking differently here , you see palm trees on the roadside, and enjoy a Mediterranean flair while everything is slowed down a bit.
It’s La Dolce Vita! Apart from typical Italian dishes you can find countless rustic Grottos in Italian-speaking Switzerland, which are offering Tessin-style dishes. First of all Polenta, best served together with roast rabbit or roast beef.
My favorite restaurant is also located in Tessin: Grotto Baldoria in Ascona, a different type of restaurant. They serve only one menu, which has not changed since several years. You sit down and the menu is served over seven rustic courses – always on the same plate. The atmosphere is loud and straight forward, and often you will start a conversation with your neighbour. That’s what makes Grotto Baldoria so unique! Another plus: The price-performance ratio is one of the best you will find in Switzerland. (http://www.grottobaldoria.ch/wb/index.php)
The most beautiful sundown in Tessin you will enjoy while having Apéro (Get-Together with drinks and fingerfood) at Restaurant Vetta up on Monte Bré above Lugano. It’s no surprise that a lot of shootings for advertising campaigns have been taken place here! The view is amazing at every time of the day and the year. You should not miss this when visiting Lugano.
Last but not least we will visit the Alpine region, in this case Graubünden! This canton also has a lot to offer culinary-wise. What about a typical Bündnerplatte with Bündnerfleisch (air-dried meat), raw ham, bacon and Bündner-Salsiz (a type of air-dried Salami) served in a rustic mountain shelter? The elaborate specialty Bündnerfleisch you should not miss in particular, followed by a tasty slice of Bündner Nusstorte (nut cake from Graubünden).
Absolutely typical for Graubünden are also Pizokel, a kind of Spätzle (type of South German pasta dish). And of course Capuns! The latter you can enjoy in the pretty mountain restaurant Capunseria in Flims.
And as I don’t want to end this article with your mouth already watering, I would like to tell you my favorite recipe for a dish from Graubünden. And who knows, maybe you will serve typical Swiss Capuns very soon?
1 Salsiz, skinned and diced
75 g diced white bread (without crust)
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped
75 g bacon, finely diced
200 g flour
1/2 TS salt
0.5 dl water
0.5 dl milk
12 Swiss chards or 24 Leaf beets (Mangold)
5 dl vegetable stock
100 g Swiss alpine cheese, grated
50 g butter
– Stuffing: Steam Salsiz, bacon dices, onion and bread, then take it off the stove. Add herbs.
– Mix flour and salt and form a hollow. Whisk milk, water and eggs, pour in the hollow and mix ingredients to a dough.
– Beat the dough until it’s even and develops bubbles. Mix the prepared stuffing into the dough.
– Blanch Mangold leaves for about 2 minutes, rinse under cold water.
– Put one leaf each in the palm of your hand, add one table spoon of the mixture and wrap the leaf around.
– Let Capuns simmer in the vegetable stock below boiling point for about 15-20 minutes, take out carefully.
-Froth up the butter, spread together with cheese on the Capuns.
Än guäte! (Bon appetit!)
Post By – Valeria Mella, LittleCITY.ch @valeriaslittlecity